The ever increasing number of renters fed up with poor housing conditions, rising rents and bad landlords will have a chance to vent their frustrations at a Manchester Renters Forum on the 1 March. Two people with the power to influence the housing situation – Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and Paul Dennett, City Mayor of Salford – will listen and respond to the concerns and experiences of Manchester’s tenants.
Those struggling to access or living in private rented housing will be given the opportunity to speak directly to policy makers, and make collective demands for safe, secure and affordable housing, both now and into the future.
Held at The Mechanics Institute, Princess St, interested parties will be able to voice their concerns and make their demands for change. Dennett, who as well as being City Mayor of Salford is Greater Manchester Combined Authority lead for Housing, is currently working on the rewrite of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework; which will determine the land allocated to house building for the next 20 years, across GM. Welcoming the forum, Burnham said:
“For too long Parliament has neglected the private rented sector. As a result, renters have been left without rights and without a voice. In Greater Manchester we want this to change and that’s why we strongly support the Renters’ Forum. The voice of renters in Greater Manchester (GM) will be crucial in shaping our Greater Manchester Good Landlords Charter.”
A first for Manchester, the forum has been organised by a coalition of organisations including Greater Manchester Housing Action(GMHA), Tenants Union UK (TUUK), GM Shelter, Acorn Tenants Union and GM Unite Communities Branch. A spokesperson for GMHA and TUUK explained:
“The Renters Forum is a historic opportunity for Manchester renters to collectively shape local housing policy and demand greater support, affordability, standards and accessibility. Those in the private rented sector are too often powerless, voiceless and disempowered.
“We need to shift the power imbalance and create a more positive dialogue and greater cooperation between renters, landlords, support services and councils. Together we can set priorities for housing locally whilst placing pressure on central government to recognise that everyone has a right to a home that is safe, secure and affordable.”
Across the UK, the proportion of people living in private rented accommodation has more than doubled from a steady 10% in the 1980’s and 1990’s, to 20% in 2015-16, and there are now 2.5 million more households in the private renting sector than there were in 2000. Furthermore, 28% of privately rented homes do not meet the Decent Homes Standard. In Greater Manchester specifically, the increase has been even more extreme, as between 2003 and 2016, the private rental sector more than tripled from 6% to 20%.
Many residents have complained that escalating rents are pushing them out of neighbourhoods while poor living conditions are not being addressed by existing regulation, with one in five private tenants living in a poorly maintained home and one in ten have experienced problems with landlords.
The Mustard Tree, an organisation who has a key aim to prevent homelessness and help people maintain secure tenancies stated the event will, “amplify the voices of those we support. The Renters Forum has the potential to help empower those who call our city home and want to rent privately here.”
In addition to Burnham and Dennett, those due to attend include renters, support services, campaigning organisations, Mike Wright (Homeless Lead for GMCA), National Landlords Association Rep & other key council leaders.
Prior to the forum, Greater Manchester Housing Action will be having a couple of Mobility Inclusion events, on the 11 and 24 February, reaching out to renters who are living in poor quality housing, to discuss how their renting conditions affect their lives. They will be door knocking and havings stalls set out in high density poor quality renting areas to spread the word:
Whilst the initial forum will be limited to residents of Manchester, it is hoped that further meetings will be planned for other Greater Manchester council areas. Registration for the limited number of tickets available can be booked on Eventbrite.
James KA Baker
Manchester Renters Forum events page – click here
Greater Manchester Housing Action – click here
Tenants Union UK – click here
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